This weekend, Laguna Seca fans will be cheering on American racer Nicky Hayden aboard his factory Ducati MotoGP bike . . . perhaps for the last time. Hayden’s five-year relationship with Ducati may be coming to an end. Apparently, as his contract with the factory expires, there has been no offer to renew it for 2014.
In Germany last weekend, Hayden admitted that his prospects of staying in MotoGP were not good, and that he had been in contact with more than one WSB team for next year. One report indicates Hayden already has a firm offer to switch to Superbikes, where he could potentially become the first to win both the MotoGP title (in 2006 with Honda) and the WSB title.
Many have wondered whether Hayden would have been far more successful, and perhaps even won another title, had he ridden a Honda or Yamaha the past five years. During Valentino Rossi’s stint at Ducati, Hayden frequently equaled, or bested, the legend.
There is some speculation that Ducati will hang onto Hayden by putting him aboard an 1199 Panigale in WSB, where the new superbike has thus far been unable to achieve a podium finish. Perhaps there will be some announcement about Hayden’s future in California next weekend.